A Smarter Way to Fundraise: Explore Classy’s Fundraising Intelligence Suite

6 Creative Campaigns Fundraising Through the Coronavirus Pandemic

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Published April 6, 2020 Reading Time: 8 minutes

As in-person events and activities get canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s clear that there’s an unprecedented need for online fundraising. This is especially important as organizations transition their in-person events into virtual events, spin up campaign pages for emergency funding, and work to keep the lights on during this global crisis.

As a result, we’re seeing nonprofits make creative use of Classy’s donation forms and crowdfunding, peer-to-peer, and events campaigns. Below, we’ll explore the different ways each campaign type has been adapted to fit the unique needs of:

  • The San Francisco Ballet
  • Another Round Another Rally
  • Upaya Social Ventures
  • Just In Time for Foster Youth
  • Hope for Haiti
  • Brooklyn Community Foundation

In each example we’ll show the issue they faced and how they built creative coronavirus fundraising campaigns in order to adapt to the situation. Then, we’ll provide some thought starters and key takeaways for your own nonprofit.


Crowdfunding is a way for your nonprofit to tell your story and attract direct support for your program or cause. The primary call to action is to “donate,” and the campaign page provides plenty of real estate for you to visually represent the impact those dollars are making on your organization.

Further, it can power everything from the biggest giving day campaigns, like Giving Tuesday, to year-round recurring giving programs. No matter the initiative, your crowdfunding page serves as a central place to collect donations from supporters.

San Francisco Ballet

The San Francisco Ballet had to cancel over 60% of their season due to the coronavirus outbreak. In an effort to drive emergency funding to compensate for lost revenue, and keep their staff paid and health benefits in place, they built a crowdfunding campaign on Classy.

Front and center at the top of the page, there’s a looped video of dancers onstage during various performances that grabs your attention, paired with a clear and direct ask. The video and accompanying CTA makes it immediately clear to supporters where their donations are going. The organization made use of Classy’s advanced design tools with the help of an in-house developer to make the video cover the entire top of the page.

San Francisco Ballet

Even if your nonprofit doesn’t have developer resources, you can still upload a video to the hero image block on your crowdfunding campaign. Also, while the donation button is typically in the header of a crowdfunding campaign, San Francisco Ballet positioned it directly below the video.

Aside from the video, San Francisco Ballet wrote concise, direct copy about the situation, strong calls to donate, and powerful images throughout the page. Everything comes to a head in their impact blocks, where donors can see the direct impact of their gift and how it affects the organization. By providing recommended donations levels and showing exactly how those funds will help, supporters can feel more connected to the mission of the organization.

San Francisco Ballet

When designing your own crowdfunding campaign, you can get a page built in as little as 10 minutes so you can start collecting the donations you need as quickly as possible. Crowdfunding campaigns are straightforward, but as the San Francisco Ballet proves, there’s certainly room to flex your creative muscles throughout the page.

Another Round Another Rally

The hospitality industry took a big hit during the coronavirus outbreak, which is why Another Round Another Rally made it their mission to raise emergency funding for chefs, baristas, servers, and more. They took a typical crowdfunding campaign page and turned it into a virtual tip jar.

First, they moved the impact blocks section directly underneath the hero image. Second, each impact block has a special call to action that’s not always directly tied to an incentive. For example, the $5 “tip” has a call to action to think about your day-to-day coffee barista:

“After you make your morning cup of coffee and before you head to your couch to telecommute send your local barista some love.”

The progress bar at the top is key for driving engagement from supporters. Some enjoy coming back to the page over and over to see how far your nonprofit is to completing its goal. They may even donate again if they can see you’re making progress.

Another Round Another Rally

You can use a similar strategy to show your supporters that every donation matters, even a gift of $1 or $5. At the same time, you can pair each impact block with a fun and thoughtful sentiment that gives people something to smile and laugh about. Case in point, generous donors who gift $100,000 to the virtual tip jar will receive not one, but two, rolls of toilet paper.

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Peer-to-peer fundraising is a multi-tiered approach to fundraising that has the power to exponentially increase your nonprofit’s reach, funds, and overall return on investment. This campaign type empowers supporters to fundraise on your behalf, which allows you to tap into your network’s network.

Free Download: Understanding the True Financial Potential of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Upaya Social Ventures

Upaya Social Ventures made the difficult choice to cancel their annual gala and transition into a virtual event. Typically, during the in-person event, Upaya designates table captains to drive donations from people sitting at their table.

When they shifted the event into a completely virtual experience, they also shifted each table captain into a peer-to-peer fundraising team captain. Each captain took their “table” virtual as well with a team peer-to-peer fundraising page.

Upaya Social Ventures

This way, they could still fulfill their role to drive donations from others sitting at their table—individuals who joined their online fundraising team. In some instances, these table captains were able to raise over $30,000.

Similar to Upaya, think of ways you might be able to transition key stakeholders of your event into peer-to-peer fundraisers or team captains. Not only does a peer-to-peer campaign allow your supporters to create their own personal and team fundraising pages, but there’s still an available option for people to give a direct donation as well.

Beyond the individuals who would normally wish to support your nonprofit’s event, peer-to-peer fundraising can help you reach entirely new audiences who may not have heard of your organization before. This reach is amplified exponentially as your supporters share it with their networks, who then share with their networks, and beyond.


Whether you’re hosting an endurance event, a polar plunge, or any other type of event, Classy allows you to build modern, dynamic event landing pages where you can sell tickets or call for registrations, as well as allow attendees to fundraise on your behalf leading up to the event. You can attract participants, encourage individuals to fundraise on your behalf before the event, and set the prices for all tickets or registrations.

Just In Time for Foster Youth

Just In Time for Foster Youth took a traditional Classy Events page and turned it into a mock auction. Everything listed on their page would have initially been auctioned during their in-person event, which was canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Instead, they took all the items and listed them for purchase, not for bidding, under the ticket sales portion of the events page. Supporters could land on the page, read about the items in a linked PDF, and purchase what they wanted.

Just In Time for Foster Youth

As the event drew to a close, Just In Time for Foster Youth reduced the price on the remaining items in an effort to drive more participation and progress toward their annual revenue goal. This is one way you can take what would have been an in-person auction and turn it virtual.

Pro Tip
Classy isn’t an official online auction software, but our partner ClickBid can help power a full online auction for your nonprofit.

Hope for Haiti

Hike for Haiti, an event hosted by the nonprofit Hope for Haiti, has always been virtual. The campaign honors the students, teachers, and families who have to climb the 200 flights of stairs every day in Marre à Coiffe in order to access clean water, healthcare, and education.

Once the coronavirus outbreak happened, Hope for Haiti began marketing it as a way to drive community togetherness during social distancing. Anyone can make the climb or travel the requisite distance of 10 and a half miles in nature, at their home, or around the neighborhood. There are also strong calls to action to share your climb and results on social media for a chance to win prizes.

Hope for Haiti

If your endurance event has been canceled, or is on the horizon of an uncertain future, don’t be afraid to make it virtual. Take your initial concept and simply invite everyone to participate in their area while abiding by the new social distancing rules.

This can open you up to countless new attendees across the United States who traditionally might not be able to attend your in-person event. In that light, you should consider adding a virtual component to any endurance event regardless of the coronavirus situation to maximize attendee registration and participation.

Donation Form

Donation forms allow you to collect one-time or recurring donations through a completely branded, mobile-responsive web page. All pages are designed to move donors through the checkout flow quickly and smoothly.

Brooklyn Community Foundation

Brooklyn Community Foundation had donors looking to take immediate action during the coronavirus outbreak. They used a donation form to provide a simple, direct way for people to donate as quickly as possible.

The page was customized to show specifically where the funds donated would go—the Brooklyn COVID-19 Response Fund—and what those funds would be allocated toward during the outbreak. Their call to action is straightforward but powerful, as it implores people to support neighbors in need and 100% of the funds will go directly to other high-impact nonprofits in Brooklyn. They also make a heavy push to sign up as a monthly recurring donor.

Brooklyn Community Foundation

Donation forms are simple, but you can dress them up with actionable copy like Brooklyn Community Foundation did here. Similarly, you can set up a specific program designation for all funds donated through your form, which makes reporting easy. It also gives donors the satisfaction of knowing exactly where their dollars are going.

When your nonprofit wants to run another donation form, you can easily duplicate your current form and change out some of the content to target different audience segments. You can also use pass-through parameters in your URL to have a donor land on the page with a higher donation amount already in their “donation” field.

Last, make use of custom questions on your form to collect crucial donor data on incoming new supporters during this time. This information will help retain their support campaign over campaign as you build lasting relationships with them.

Online fundraising has never been more important than it is right now. Classy’s campaign types can help activate supporters wherever they may be and increase revenue at a time when you need it most. If you want to learn more about building creative coronavirus fundraising campaigns, or Classy can help you through this time, reach out to us directly. Then, be sure to download our guide below: The Anatomy of a Successful Fundraising Campaign.

the anatomy of a successful fundraiser

The Anatomy of a Successful Fundraiser

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